Wes Vernon
Your decision this week: will America still be America?
Socialized Medicine--Part 11
By Wes Vernon
March 15, 2010

This may be the "make or break" week for America's survival as the free society that we cherish and consider our birthright. Whether the United States of America survives as the greatest nation on the face of the earth is in our hands — yours and mine.

There are forces at work in Washington determined to herd us like sheep toward tyranny through a 2700-page health "care" bill that proposes nothing short of a takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, including severe constraints on our freedom. Only a massive push-back of freedom-loving citizens can do anything about it. They need to be heard, because some involved in this scheme mean well and don't know what they're doing; then again, others know exactly what they're doing.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told local officials visiting their nation's capitol that "we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it." That makes the job of a script-writer for Saturday Night Live easier, but what is not funny is what it says about the arrogance of Capitol Hill's backroom deals to stab us in the back.

There are those whose reading of history tells them that truly limited governments imposing few constraints on the liberty of its citizens are likely to last no longer than about 200 years. If that is the case, our founding fathers' brilliant 234-year old "experiment" in maximum individual freedom would be due to expire.

What is at stake

This moment is indeed historical in that our elected leaders in this town are working feverishly to push through a measure whose effects on your freedom are probably unconstitutional. And they are not only ignoring popular will, they are saying out loud that they don't care what you think. Their cover story comes down to the equivalent of —

"Don't you worry. We know what's best for you. Just wait; you'll like it once we make it mandatory for you to put your faith in our ultimate wisdom and our right to shove this down your throats. Go ahead; throw us out of office in 2010 and maybe down the road in 2012. We and our fellow oppressives who follow us will ultimately reap the benefits of our power grab. In the end, there will be one-party rule. Once the takeover is complete and the population is dependent on what we have embedded in your every-day life, then we rule forever. Every election, we will pounce on any opponent who dares to hint at the slightest inclination to rein in our power, we'll accuse him or her of trying to toss you out into the gutter. We've used these scare tactics on other entitlements, and it works every time. Remember when George W. Bush tried to head off the bankruptcy of Social Security? Out of our way, or you're next."

Here comes the steamroller

They don't come out and use that precise language, of course, but if you follow their own rhetoric to its logical conclusion, that is their intent. If that is not what you want to see happen, you must weigh in — you and millions of others. If enough pressure is brought to bear, those lawmakers who are on the fence or even inclined to vote for that 2700-page monstrosity hopefully will come to their senses, and repel the effort to make us another socialist state on the order of what prevails in much of Europe (or ultimately worse: a pale carbon copy of outright dictatorships that have come to power and thrived on the propaganda that they're doing this for "your own good" because "we all benefit").

The reasons

First and foremost, constitutional scholars say any government order that you must purchase health care insurance is violating your freedoms. If such a mandate is passed, it will most certainly face a court challenge. It is uncertain — given that the oppressives have it in their power to put their own on the bench — that the challenge will win. Even if it finally does, the court fight will have dragged on for many years while the coercive system becomes more embedded in our society, and resourceful liberal lawmakers will find an end-run around any adverse court decree — in which case, another court challenge will follow and likely meet the same fate.

You saw how President Obama whipped his fellow oppressives into a wild frenzy when he berated the justices (sitting right in front of him at the State of the Union address) for their decision upholding freedom of speech — an idea whose tenets are understandably offensive to one raised in a Marxist culture. What's next? Public hangings?

Secondly, surveys show that the American people don't want this imposition on their freedom. A huge majority of Americans are satisfied with their current health insurance.

Doctors don't want the bill. Many of them would leave the profession if it passes. Investors Business Daily reports that 26% of doctors responding to a survey said they either had closed their solo practice or were considering doing just that. Just what we need. There already are not enough doctors. Many of them have had to hire people on their payrolls who do nothing but shuffle government-mandated papers. The doctor-patient relationship would be shredded if this impersonal imposition on medicine is allowed to become the law of the land and put federal bureaucrats between you and your doctor.

Worst of both worlds

There are no real cost-controls in the bill, even though the measure would lead to government rationing of health care. Thus we would get the worst of both worlds: scarcity and costs out of sight.

Rationing of health care, especially late in life, can be another way of saying "We can't afford to cure you. Die old man," or "You're stuck with the pain, old woman." They can scream all they want to about Sarah Palin's use of the term "death panels." OK, let's find a polite way of saying it and that will make the problem disappear, right? The politically-correct speech police have all but banned other words in the English language, so why should this be any different? Does anyone with an IQ above 10 really think that if death panels were created, they would hang out a shingle on their doors saying "Death Panel — Welcome"?

Private insurers would disappear, and scientific progress in medicine will come to a standstill. Virtually all medical innovation originates in the U.S. That is no coincidence. Our pharmaceutical firms have not been discouraged from creating life-saving medicines or devices. Rationing would change all that.

The "how" is as outrageous as the content

Now we come to the issue of process. As Senator Scott Brown — the new Republican senator from Massachusetts — elected largely on his promise to vote against this bill — said in his Saturday radio address: "Somehow, the greater the opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they [Obama-Pelosi-Reid] seem to force it on us anyway," notwithstanding that it raises taxes by a half trillion dollars and costs a trillion dollars more to implement? In addition, Senator Brown warns, "It takes another half trillion dollars away from seniors on Medicare."

Small wonder the Democrats are poised — as of this writing — to use a series of procedural stunts to get the measure through. Here's the plan (as passed on to us by Capitol Hill staffers close to the action):

1 — First, the House will pass the Senate's health care overhaul without changing one single word — with all its "back-room" deal baggage intact.

2 — House Democrats hope to "fix" at least some — but likely not all — of the problems in a fast track "reconciliation" bill.

3 — The Senate would take up the House-passed reconciliation bill, vote it through, and send it on to the president for his signature.

4 — Then the "lick and a promise" is that there will be a series of fixes outside of reconciliation that might move through both the House and the Senate later.

5 — Lest there be any misunderstanding: House Democrats must pass the Senate Christmas-morning health care overhaul before the Senate will even consider "fixing" it. House and Senate Dems don't trust each other. Both are justified in their skepticism. After the House votes to OK the original Senate bill, Pelosi supposedly won't send it to the president until reconciliation is passed with its "fixes."

Basically there are two reasons for this convoluted kabuki dance:

One of them is that the reconciliation ploy is seen as a means of getting around the 60 vote anti-filibuster requirement. Scott Brown's election deprived the Dems of their Senate super-majority.

Even Senate Democrat Whip Dick Durbin (Illinois) concedes that "we will be testing some reconciliation [Senate] rules that have never been tested before." There will come a ruling by the Senate Parliamentarian as to whether this evasion is compatible with the Senate rules. His ruling may not come until the moment the Senate is on the verge of making the move. It has been reported that if he rules that the ploy is not acceptable, there is one person who can overrule the parliamentarian: Vice President Joe Biden — in his role as President of the Senate. If that happens, then the lid is off. There are no rules.

The second reason for this back-alley parliamentary blackjack maneuver is that the House bill contains provisions forbidding the use of federal funding for abortion. The Senate bill does not. Thus a dozen anti-abortion Democrats let by Rep. Bart Stupak (Michigan) have vowed not to vote for the Senate version. Pelosi is trying to pick them off one by one. Leaked info on those meetings is not encouraging.

One of the multiple backroom negotiations came to light in a recent Washington Post column by Marc Thiessen, who reports Stupak has met with Speaker Pelosi supposedly to work out a compromise on abortion. Surprisingly, the Michigan lawmaker appeared optimistic that he could reach a deal with the speaker. He told left-wing MSNBC, "It would have to be a separate bill; you could sidebar it to the final bill.... One bill doesn't go down the aisle without the other."

"The problem for Stupak and his allies," Thiessen writes, "is that such a guarantee is not enough to ensure their position prevails — because Senate Republicans [in an effort to kill the whole bill outright] are gearing up to use something called 'the Byrd rule' to slow up any deal Pelosi cuts to pass health care in the House."

In order to get the reconciliation bill with "fixes" Stupak and Co. demand, they must first vote to pass the Christmas-morning Senate bill, which allows federal funding for abortions. The parliamentarian may determine the "Byrd Rule" disallows the reconciliation bill on the grounds that reconciliation can be used only if the issue at hand is "budgetary" (which the abortion deal is not). In that event, then the measure goes to the House minus the anti-abortion "fix." Stupak and his cohorts would vote it down.

Buuuuut — they will already have voted the original Senate bill through the House on the promise their anti-abortion language would carry the day on reconciliation. Ah, but Pelosi is then able to send the House-passed Senate bill on to the white House for the president's signature. She's in a position to tell Stupak, "Hey, don't blame me. Blame the Senate Republicans." Stupak is a former highway patrolman, a calling that trains one to know a tall story when he hears one. Does anyone think this ex-cop is about to be "snookered"?

Mr. Stupak later told National Review he won't settle for an agreement to pass the Senate bill and fix the abortion problems later. The problem with that is "later never comes," he said.

And just to complicate things a little more: At the end of last week, we learned from several sources that the parliamentarian has stipulated that in order even to consider a reconciliation "fix," the president would first have to sign the original Senate bill into law. So that could further alienate Mr. Stupak's group — in that the pro-abortion version of the bill would be on the books as law before any "fix" could be aced upon. It would appear this has considerable potential as a monkey wrench. Stay tuned.

What must be done

Americans who want to let America be American — rather than to ape the kind of tyranny our forefathers came here to avoid — can stop Congress and the president from turning this proposed nightmare into permanent reality.

Pelosi and Co. claim they have or soon will have the votes to pass this bill. That could happen. That's how close it is. But for them to exude an "in the bag" confidence is a head-fake meant to discourage us from actively bringing pressure to bear. We need not succumb to that psychological warfare. We can still derail this beyond-horrible bill.

You can reach your congressman and senators by calling 202-224-3121 — the main switchboard. If the switchboard is jammed, you can call his/her district office and request — politely but firmly — that you be given the direct office number in Washington. If you go to your lawmaker's website, you will likely find directions as to how you can contact the D.C. office by e-mail. That is helpful, but direct phone calls — using numbers also available at the website — are often given more weight. Using both avenues of communication won't hurt. Snail-mail is most effective of all, but the essence of time may short-circuit that option. You can also get your lawmaker's fax number and go that route. But the phone contains a sense of urgency. Again — it doesn't hurt to use more than one communication channel.

Next week at this time, we may know whether this nation's unique freedoms survive into the future. Our Constitution for years has been hanging by a thread as it is. You have it in your hands to prevent a giant step toward its ultimate demise. Good luck — to all of us.

© Wes Vernon


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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